Putnam Valley, NY
SYNOPSIS: A short visit will give you a nice explanation of how mills worked in yesteryear and an education about the mill that once stood on this site. Since this a small site, consider combining this with a visit to another nearby adventure like the Danner Preserve, Trump Park or Adams Corners Cemetery.
APPROXIMATE TIME: 15 minutes.
DIRECTIONS: To get to Rundle’s Mill from central Putnam County, take Peekskill Hollow Road into Putnam Valley. Make a left onto Mill Street and go about 1 mile to the second entrance to Mill Pond Road, which will be on the left. Look for the small red building on the corner. If you see signs welcoming you to Westchester, you went too far. There really wasn’t a designated parking area that we could see, so we turned onto Mill Pond Road and pulled off onto the side of the road as best we could. Unfortunately, there is a private property sign at the spot that would make the most sense for off-road parking.
THE VISIT: The structure that encloses the gears and millstone is a deep red, and there is a fence of the same color surrounding the building and the stone waterway that runs next to it. There is a small, shaded, multi-level grassy area on the side of the building. Shrub Oak Stream flows nearby, and if you look across the stream from the grassy area, there are remains of an old bridge. A few evergreens line the road, giving visitors at least a little privacy from the main road.
There is a kiosk in front of the building that is short and sweet. There is a map of how the mill property was laid out, and a diagram explaining how the mill worked. There is even an interesting story about a local event during prohibition that brought federal agents to the mill – and it wasn’t just because they were thirsty. There are also old pictures of the mill and the Rundle family.
For an interesting comparison of past and present, take a look at the 1895 picture on the kiosk of the Rundle house, then turn your head and look at the present-day structure that sits across Mill Pond Road.
The gate into the building was open so we walked inside the structure to explore. There is a concrete platform that goes around the interior perimeter of the building that you can use to get a better look at the large gears. Be careful on the walkway near the back of the building because there is no fence or guardrail. The drop was probably about 10 feet down to the rock-filled water.
Holding my daughter’s hand tightly, we peered down to the water. I had just finished telling her that they used to make apple cider here, so she got excited when she saw “apples” in the water. I explained to her that they were actually tennis balls, but in retrospect I probably should not have spoiled her excitement.
We left the building to inspect the stone sluice. Having attempted to build a few stone walls over the years, I appreciate how much work goes into a nice stone structure. We did a small circle around the grassy area to look for other treasures and get a closer view of Shrub Oak Stream. Two man-made ponds that were part of the mill sit just out of view on the far side of a tennis court. It was then back to the car and on to the next adventure.
The visit to the Rundle’s Mill site doesn’t take long, so I recommend making this a secondary stop – maybe a short addition to a nearby hike or museum visit.
HISTORY: According to the educational kiosk at the site, the mill consisted of three stories and was used to grind apples for apple cider, corn for chicken feed and grain for fine flour. There was also a sawmill in a side shed. Operations date possibly as far back as 1788. The mill’s namesake, Charles Rundle, purchased it in 1883 and passed it to his son Arthur. When Arthur Rundle died in 1932, the building fell into disrepair and was torn down by the new owners in the late 1930’s. All that remains of the mill is the master gear drive and the millstone. A May 2005 Putnam County News & Recorder article reported that the Putnam Valley Rotary restored the gristmill to celebrate the Rotary’s 100th birthday.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Our last visit was in January 2010. Rundle’s Mills is small, and very close to the road and speeding traffic, so I would leave your pup at home or in the car, as long as it’s not too hot.